Monday, January 13, 2014

Safety Tips for Running in the Cold

It can be hard to keep your work out motivation up during the cold winter months. But cold weather running doesn’t have to chill you to the bone. Wearing the correct clothing and following some basic safety precautions can keep you warm and toasty while you shed those pounds and keep yourself in shape all year round. Some winter running tips are:

  • Layer Up: Dress in thin, wicking layers underneath any thicker layers you may want to place on top. Polypropylene is a good fabric to look for as it wicks away sweat from your body keeping you dry and warm. The next layer you should consider is a fleece or insulating layer to keep your body heat in. Your top most layer should be made of nylon or Gore-Tex, which both protect against wind and precipitation while still releasing some heat and moisture from your body. By releasing heat and moisture, the outermost layer helps prevent overheating and chilling simultaneously. Avoid cotton when dressing for cold weather running. Cotton tends to keep moisture in and will keep you wet and cold while you run.
  • Cover your hands, feet and head: 70% of your body’s heat escapes through the hands, feet and head so keeping them covered and warm is of the utmost importance when you are running in the cold. Running gloves with a wicking fabric are great for mild weather while wearing mittens are better for the colder days. For your feet, make sure to wear a wicking sock underneath any wool or fleece socks you may want to wear. This will keep them from absorbing sweat and moisture, so they stay warm and dry. And lastly, wear a hat. 40% of your body heat leaves through your head. It’s important to keep that heat trapped so you don’t catch a chill. If it’s really cold, we recommend wearing a face mask to keep warm air in while you breathe and protect your face.
  • Beware of Frostbite: Frostbite strikes without warning. If your fingers or toes start to feel so numb that you can’t feel the tips anymore, you may be on the road to severe frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin has been subjected to freezing temperatures for an extended amount of time. If you begin to experience a lack of feeling in your fingers, toes, nose or ears, it’s time to go inside. Slowly warm them back up to normal temperature by running them under warm water or near a fire or heater.
  • Hydrate: Hydrating year round is important anytime you are going to be working out. Staying hydrated during the winter can take a back seat to drinking warm coffees and hot chocolates, but water is still very important to keeping you healthy and ready for a big run.
  • Distraction: It doesn’t matter what temperature it is or whether you are inside or out, keeping yourself distracted from the act of running or working out can mean a more successful work out. Music is a great way to keep your mind busy while your body pushes itself to the limit. Utilizing a wireless headset leaves your limbs to act naturally. Instead of getting tangled up in wires and worrying about pulling your earphones out, your arms can move freely and give you the edge to push yourself as hard as you can.
  • Be Prepared and Warm Up: Running outside may mean carrying all of your things with you. A sports sleeve is perfect for this situation, as it can carry your IPod or phone, keys, money, cards or sports gels with ease. Being prepared doesn’t just mean carrying your things with you. It also means properly warming up your body for your workout. Start your run out slowly and remember to always warm up your muscles before you stretch. Cold weather means it takes longer for your muscles to warm up, so be sure to ease into your workout so you don’t pull any muscles or injure yourself.
  • Start by Running into the Wind: By starting your run by running into the wind, you can get the hardest part of your work out in early while also lessening your chances of getting sick. After you’ve been running for a while, you’ll begin to sweat and accumulate moisture on your body; this will become increasingly colder if you run into the wind at the end of your run. If you close your run with the wind to your back, you lessen the chance of catching a chill and getting sick.
  • Alternate Options: Work out indoors. No one says you have to run outside during the winter. Treadmills, ellipticals and indoor tracks are always a great option for winter workouts. Staying inside means staying warm and offers less risk for getting sick or injured. If there are some bad winter weather days, it can be pretty hard to get outside. So run indoors. You won't compromise your daily progress and you'll stay warm.

When the time comes to complete your winter work out, it’s important to know how to run in the cold. So make sure to keep your muscles warmed up before you start, run into the wind, layer up, keep your hands, feet and head warm, and never forget to hydrate. Listening to music always provides a great distraction from your run and can help you push yourself even further, no matter what time of year it is. So stay fit and stay warm this winter season.

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